This article is written by Robert Barnes, General Manager of SuperGuide.
Over the last few weeks we ran a survey with SuperGuide readers that happily has illustrated that you are very switched on and involved when it comes to your super. Well I guess that would explain why you are visiting SuperGuide!
We also uncovered some interesting gender differences which we will discuss in this article. Some of these are expected, and Trish has covered previously, but others were a surprise.
First off, 68% of the approximately 900 responses were from male readers, and 32% female, and this fits closely to the profile of SuperGuide readers in previous surveys. 74% of the women were over 55, compared to 86% of men.
The starkest contrast, predictably, is in the super balances. While 63% of male readers had over $500,000 in super, only 33% of female readers had the same balance or higher. There was an even bigger difference with larger balances, with 35% of men having over $1m, compared to just 11% for women. Some of this is due to the female respondents being generally younger, but it is highly likely this also relates to the larger issue of women earning less than men, and for less time.
Another big surprise is the differing opinions on how much an individual will need to save for their retirement. Regarding the question ‘How much super do you think you will need to have saved by the time you start retirement? Please consider it in today’s money and as an individual.’, only 25% of women answered $1m or more, compared to 52% of men.
Regarding annuities the most striking difference was that 17% of female readers say they don’t know what an annuity is, (compared to 8% of male readers).
Another significant gender difference is seen in those who have SMSFs. 52% of male readers had SMSFs, while only 35% of females did.
Other differences we noted around SMSF investment were that women were more likely to have direct property in SMSF (22% vs 12%), and men were more likely to invest in Managed funds (41% vs 24%)
For those without SMSFs, we asked about the frequency of reading member statements. It was good to see that both men and women reviewed the statements frequently, with 75% of men and 69% of women reading them more than once per year.
It was also really encouraging to see that many readers mentioned that they check their statements daily or weekly, either online or in their fund’s app.
There were some minor differences in terms of what parts of the member statement was reviewed. Generally men reviewed much more of it, except for the employer’s payments, which was viewed more often by women.
Table 1: What do you read on your super fund member statement?
In terms of how respondents would research and select a new super fund, the most popular method for both men and women was searching on the internet. For the next most popular method, 61% of men would use ratings agencies, but only 46% of women would. It was also worth noting that asking their employer rated lowest, with just 4% of readers saying they would do that.
With regards to the main reasons for both male and female being prompted to look for a new super fund, bad performance by their current fund was the most popular reason, (78% for men and 69% for women), followed by high fees by my current fund (72% for men and 68% for women).
It is also interesting that 29% of readers, (34% of women and 24% of men), would seek friends’ recommendations when they were researching a super fund, but only 10% of readers (11% of women and 10% of men) would be prompted to look for a new super fund by a friend’s recommendation.
There are different priorities for men and women when researching a super fund. Consistent performance is the most important factor for both men and women, then investment performance ranks above low fees for men, while for women low fees is more important than investment options.
Table 2: Rate the importance of the following when selecting a super fund (ordered by average rating, with highest rating at top)
|Consistent performance||Consistent performance|
|Investment options||Low fees|
|Low fees||Investment options|
|Availability of financial advice||Education about super|
|Education about super||Availability of financial advice|
|Integrated with online banking||Insurance options|
|Insurance options||Integrated with online banking|
Finally, rating their level of understanding of these aspects of superannuation, generally men were more confident in their level of understanding than women, and there was a common view that the most understood were knowing how much super is enough, and what fees are charged. The lowest level of understanding for women though was how to compare funds, while for men it was knowing what super rules the government had changed.
We are very grateful to everyone who participated and hope that this gives everyone some food for thought about their own superannuation situation. We will be considering the survey findings to help us improve SuperGuide.